Ticks carry pathogens that may cause disease. The three (3) most common ticks in Wisconsin for tick-borne diseases and the diseases these ticks may carry are below:
- Blacklegged (deer or bear) Tick: Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Powassan Disease
- American Dog (wood) Tick: Tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Lone Star Tick: Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STAR)
You may view or print this Tick Identification Card which shows signs and symptoms of diseases caused by ticks in our area, prevention tips and how to remove a tick. If you would like printed copies, please call the Health Department at 715-839-4718.
In Wisconsin, preventative measures are especially needed during the months of April through October.
- Always use according to labels.
- Use repellents with 20-30% DEET (or an alternative active ingredient) on exposed skin and clothing to prevent tick bites.
- Permethrin is also effective against ticks and lasts for days and weeks, but only apply it on clothing; not directly to skin.
- Always help children apply repellents according to labeled instructions.
- Never apply repellents to infants under 2 months of age.
- Find the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered tick repellent that is right for you.
- Visit the UW-Madison Russell Labs page for information and research studies on repellent effectiveness.
- Additional research on repellent options and effectiveness.
- Purchase BioUD repellent.
- Wear long sleeves, long pants and long socks to keep ticks on the outside of clothing.
- Light colored clothing will help you spot ticks.
- Tuck shirts into pants and pants into shoes or socks.
- Purchase permethrin-treated clothing
- Purchase permethrin-treated socks are available locally at Beaver Creek Reserve.
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas that contain high grass and leaves.
- If you do go into wooded areas, stay in the center of a cleared trail to avoid contact with overgrown grass, brush and leaves.
- Clear overgrown grass, brush and leaves.
- Use wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas.
- Mow lawns frequently and remove cut grass and leaves.
- Keep tables, swing sets, play equipment, etc. away from woods, shrubs and tall grass. Place in a sunny location.
- Keep deer away by constructing barriers and not feeding them.
- Remove woodpiles, or stack wood neatly in dry areas away from houses to prevent ticks and rodents.
- Pesticides that kill ticks (acaricides) may be helpful to use during spring. Talk to a professional pesticide company before use.
Body Check and Unattached Ticks
- Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, especially the armpits, scalp and groin.
- Perform tick checks on your children and your pets after being outdoors.
- Remove any ticks from clothing, gear and pets before going inside.
- Take a shower or bathe as soon as possible to wash off any ticks that still might be on your body.
- Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes for dry clothes and 1 hour for wet clothes to kill remaining ticks.
Remove an Attached Tick
- Grasp it with narrow-bladed tweezers or forceps as close as possible to attachment (skin) site. If tweezers are not available, use fingers shielded with tissue paper or rubber gloves. Do not handle the tick with bare hands.
- Pull upward and out with firm and steady tension. Be careful not to squeeze, crush or puncture the tick as it may contain infectious fluids.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash hands.
If you develop a rash or fever and other symptoms within several weeks of removing a tick, see your healthcare provider.
Be sure to tell your healthcare provider:
- About the recent tick bite
- When the bite occurred
- Where you most likely got the tick
The health department does not test individual ticks from community members. If you are interested in having a tick tested, visit https://tickencounter.org/tick_testing. Note that there is a cost associated with testing.
- Lyme disease Ticks Me Off Toolkit: The Health Department has been collecting deer ticks from Big Falls County Park and Lowe's Creek County Park since 2014. In 2017, they expanded their research to Carson Park and Phoenix Park. The Health Department Laboratory tests collected ticks from these parks for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) and Ehrlichiosis. This toolkit details the methods, results and lessons learned from the research they conducted in 2017-2018.
- Lyme disease in pets: This handout provides information about preventing tick-borne disease, symptoms of pets with Lyme disease, and removing a tick and treatment.
- Tick Sign: This sign is displayed at many local parks and features the top 10 tips about how to avoid tick bites.
- Repellent brochure: This brochure includes a comparison of different types of insect repellents.
- Repellent research handout: This handout provides additional research about different types of insect repellents available.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has many free educational materials on their website including Lyme disease prevention for kids (crossword puzzle, comic strip, bookmarks) and fact sheets in English and Spanish.
- UW-Madison, Midwest Center of Excellence, Vector-borne Disease
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services has many free resources and fact sheets available.